Later Start Time Creates Scheduling Issues for Students


Photo by Kalyani Ryaru

Kalyani Ryaru, Reporter

Novato High School classes now begin at 8:30 a.m., even though Senate Bill 328 (which requires this change) does not go into effect until the beginning of the 2022 school year. While starting later allows students more time in the morning, students see their time for homework and extracurriculars being eaten away when school ends as late as 4:05 p.m.

The bill, which was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom in October of 2019, will require high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. and middle schools no earlier than 8 a.m. SB 328 can be implemented even after July 2022 if a school’s three-year collective bargaining agreement comes to an end after that date, according to the LA Times. 

NHS Assistant Principal Greg Fister provided some insight on the change.

“Overall I think it was a great idea for kids,” said Fister. “They will get at least 30 minutes of extra sleep a day and that way they will be more refreshed for first period and second period.” 

This later start time is closer to the 9 a.m. first period from last school year’s adjusted schedule due to the pandemic. That said, students have gone from a 3-hour school day to a 6-hour school day, at the minimum. This already is a significant adjustment. 

The decision to start at 8:30 a.m. this year was not a state or district mandate, but rather a school-specific decision. 

In response to being asked about this scheduling decision, Fister said, “Usually most decisions that are important, we bring them to our department chairs…and then after we have the conversation with them, then administration will take that recommendation forward. Overall, I think it was a collective decision.” 

However, many students have not viewed this decision as so positive. Students have experienced less time in the afternoon to do activities that they enjoy while also balancing homework. 

Junior Ella Baggiolini explained her viewpoint on the new schedule.

“It’s really hard to find the time to do [home]work,” said Baggiolini, who is the captain of the JV volleyball and an AP student. “I go to practice and I have so much school work, it’s looming over my head and it kind of distracts me from playing even.” 

Many students playing sports struggle to balance rigorous academics with daily sports practices and games several times a week. 

With school getting out so late, outdoor sports like soccer may be impacted by the sun setting much earlier in the winter months.

There are other factors that have been impacted by the schedule change as well. 

Ben Gurvis, a Novato High School junior, takes a French class at Santa Rosa Junior College and works at Sweet Things Bakery in Tiburon. Gurvis talked about how hard it is to balance school and work. 

“Before, I used to be able to come home from school and just go straight to work and work a good amount of time, but now it’s been really tough for me to just go there for an hour and a half or two hours, which has made it really hard for work to be able to schedule me because they want me to work for an amount of time that is actually helpful,” Gurvis said. Gurvis explained that he had less time between the end of school and his SRJC French class to catch up on homework. He also talked about getting less sleep with the new schedule. 

While an extra 30 minutes in the morning may allow students to get a little extra sleep, students have experienced limited time in the afternoons to do what they love. NHS students go to school an average of 7 hours per day. With homework, sports, and other extracurriculars, many students are experiencing jam-packed schedules with little time to relax. Given that SB 328 goes into effect July 2022, this new schedule is not expected to go away anytime soon.